PreOctober2009 Schema

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This wiki page was the documentation for the GCD's schema during the mid-late 2000's up to the server migration during the first weekend of October 2009. It is retained here for historical interest and in case we need to go back to the final dump of this schema to answer any questions that arise in the wake of migration. The remainder of this page was original at the "Current_Schema" page location, but has been moved for the obvious reason that it is no longer current :-) While the rest of the page is written in the present tense, you should mentally correct it to the past.

The public schema consists of four principle data tables as well as several supporting tables. The supporting tables are Countries, Languages (lists of codes for each of those things), Indexers (a list of indexers, but not of full account information) and IndexCredit (maps indexers to series for credit, but there are also credit notes in the series table). The four main tables are described below.

The original organization of the GCD data was into two files--or, more accurately, into a Series file (later two and then four Series files) and several dozen detail files. The two types of files were normalized by Lionel English in the mid-1990s in order to put them in to a real database, and then the two normalized files were further normalized in order to create the Publishers table from the Series table, and an Issues table from the Details table. The supporting tables were mostly created in the same fashion. Note in particular that normalization occurred after-the-fact and organization efforts were applied retroactively to a large existing data-set upon which no strict data type-enforcement had been been applied. Many, if not most, of the current schema's anomalies are a direct result of the database's free-form beginnings.

The "Name in New Code" column is for those who might be looking at the new Python/Django implementation. Since the existing table and column names are not even remotely consistent in capitalization, formatting or abbreviation, they were standardized in the Django model classes to make working with them easier (Django provides a convenient name mapping system for exactly this purpose).

Note that all foreign keys in this database are nullable. The current data set includes stories with no issue, issues with no series, and series with no publisher. And other stranger things. These are all errors; resulting from unenforced relational integrity and data formatting errors during early imports.

Please note that much of the issue and story table information on this page is based on earlier documentation by Peter Croome, with the remaining initial data contributed by Henry Andrews. Lionel English has attempted to provide clarification where possible. Jon Løvstad has added some comments per April 1st.

Publishers

The publisher table is mostly straightforward. The largest area of confusion is the notion of imprints and of master publishers. Many of the larger publishers have had many names and/or many concurrent corporate identities during their life time (particularly true of Golden Age publishers, where multiple corporation names were used to reduce risk and hide ownership). In order to group related publishing companies together, the GCD uses what we have recently been calling "house" names, or names that have been established in fandom as umbrella names to refer to a particular, identifiable group of related companies (e.g. Detective Comics, Inc; National Periodicals; DC Comics Inc). In an effort to provide a place to note the actual publishers of given series, a "Publisher Notes" field was later added, which was used both to list actual company names and publishing imprints, eventually resulting in a rather ugly mess. Much attention was focused on correcting this mess in the new schema.

publishers [Publisher class in new site]
DB Column Name in New Code Description Usage Notes
Core publisher data fields:
ID id DB-generated primary key. In the lasso-based site, this is the number you see in URLs like http://www.comics.org/publisher_details.lasso?id=4066 It is generated by the database and has no inherent meaning.
PubName name Name of the publishing "family", publisher (legal entity), imprint, or set of imprints Because imprints are not stored per-issue, in some cases a semicolon-separated list of imprints or corporate names corresponding to all imprints used for a given series has been given an entry in this table. Also, not all things that we term "Publishers" or "Imprints" strictly fall into those categories, and we do not accurately reflect the evolution of company names over time (for instance, "DC" was not until fairly recently the official name of the company, although it was long an informal name. It is still not exactly correct- "DC Comics" appears to be the current legal name. But "DC" is what everyone knows, so that is what appears in the database).
YearBegan year_began Year (by cover date) of first publication.
YearEnded year_ended Year (by cover date) of last publication, if any.
CountryID country The country from which the publisher operates. Foreign key into the Countries table.
Notes notes Space for arbitrary notes.
web url The URL for the publisher's website. While this column sometimes has data, it does not appear to be used by the Lasso-based site.
AlphaSortCode alpha_sort_code A single character. Appears to be used to sort related publishers near each other even if the more obvious alphabetical sort would not do so. It's a touch unclear. Intended to strip out "The" etc. in an earlier version of the database.
Publisher / imprint relations and publication counts:
ImprintCount imprint_count Count of how many imprints a given publisher has. Does not appear to be uniformly accurate. Should be recalculated on updates.
BookCount series_count Count of how many series this publisher publishes. Does not appear to be uniformly accurate. Should be recalculated on updates.
IssueCount issue_count Total number of issues in all series published by the publisher. Does not appear to be uniformly accurate. Should be recalculated on updates.
Master is_master Boolean field. This field indicated the "master" or top level in the hierarchy of publisher/imprint in the days where both publishers and imprints were stored in the same, self-joined table in FileMaker.
Connection connection Not used. Was supposed to explain the nature of each publisher-to-publisher relationship.
ParentID parent Self-join key for parent/child relationships. This is how the imprints for a publisher are stored.
NextID next Self-join key, was intended to provide links from one incarnation of a publisher to the next incarnation (e.g. National Periodical Publications -> DC Comics Inc). Never implemented.
Change tracking fields:
created created Row creation timestamp.
Modified modified One of two change timestamps. Actively used by the Lasso site.
Updated updated One of two change timestamps. Deprecated.


Series

The series table includes a number of fields that are now obsolete, or perhaps represent possible new features that were abandoned. It also has fields related that may be related to cover scans, which are unclear as the cover tables are not included in the public schema.

series [Series class in new site]
DB Column Name in New Code Description Usage Notes
Core series data fields:
ID id DB-generated primary key. In the lasso-based site, this is the number you see in URLs like http://www.comics.org/series.lasso?seriesid=72 It is generated by the database and has no inherent meaning.
Bk_Name name Series title.
Format format Physical format of the series (size, color presence or absence, paper stock, etc.). Since format is really an attribute of the issue rather than the whole series, this field may contain a fairly long description of how the format changed over the life of the series. In the new schema, this is being replace by a number of distinct fields, which individually describe the constituent attributes commonly listed here.
Notes notes Space for arbitrary notes.
Yr_Began year_began First year (by cover date) of publication.
Yr_Ended year_ended Last year (by cover date) of publication, if any.
PubDates publication_dates First and last full cover publication dates of the series, separated by a '-'. No last date if still ongoing.
Pub_Note publication_note Arbitrary publication / publisher-related notes. Some records in the current DB include addresses, imprint information and/or general reprint information here. Legacy field. Not used by the Lasso implementation. Replaced by the imprint_id foreign key into the Publisher table that identified the imprint record.
Frst_Iss first_issue Issue # (or other identifier) of the first issue in the series. Note that it's not currently reliably possible to determine this from the issue table, since the series may only be partially indexed.
Last_Iss last_issue Issue # (or other identifier) of the last issue in the series, if any. Note that it's not currently reliably possible to determine this from the issue table, since the series may only be partially indexed.
Issuecount issue_count Number of issues associated with the series. Does not appear to be reliably accurate.
PubID publisher Foreign key into the publishers table.
Pub_Name publisher_name Cached Publisher name and stems historically from the flat file format. Reliability of this field has not been verified.
imprint_id imprint Foreign key into the publishers table for the "imprint" concept. Which bears only occasional resemblance to any normal definition of the term.
CounCode country_code Not a foreign key into the Country table. Instead the country code is duplicated here, and does not necessarily match properly. Historically it was done this way to save some joining time.
LangCode language_code Not a foreign key into the Languages table. Instead the language code is duplicated here, and does not necessarily match properly. Historically it was done this way to save some joining time.
Fields relating series to each other (continuations, etc.):
Tracking tracking_notes Notes about how a given series is continued in or continued from another series.
Crossref crossref Not in use. Intended to indicate a cross reference to replace tracking
CrossrefID crossref_id Not in use. Intended to be a foreign key to a table of one-to-many references to other series to replace tracking.
Field related to the (cover?) gallery:
HasGallery gallery_present 3-character field, but used as boolean. Gallery flag. Initially used for caching display of the gallery indicator. 3-char field stems from very early "YES/NO" values.
Included gallery_includes Obsolete. Legacy field that used to be used to indicate which issues had been indexed. Superceded by various matrices on the current site.
Fields related to indexing:
Indexers indexers Semicolon-separated string of indexers. Originally a free-form text field recording who had worked on a given series. Used to create initial version of Indexers table, and then used to create the IndexCredit join table. Later updated periodically *from* the IndexCredit join table so that it could be exported into legacy format. Presumably no longer completely up-to-date, now that the lasso-site tracks indexing at the issue level. Not clear how the current site builds the display of indexers on a given page.
OpenReserve open_reserve Integer field. How many issues of this series are open for reservation.
Fields apparently related to flat file management / distribution:
File file Obsolete. The name of the file used for flat-file distribution. They were sized for floppies IIRC.
InitDist initial_distribution Obsolete. Indicated the first distribution set the record was contained in (flat-file).
UpdateDist update_distribution Obsolete. Indicated the last distribution set the record was updated in (flat-file).
Change tracking fields:
Created created Row creation timestamp.
Modified modified Date of last row change.
ModTime modification_time Time of last row change (24 hour).
LstChang last_change Date of some sort, but apparently unused. Only five non-NULL, non-zero values in the current data, all in the future (nearest is in 2010).
oldID old_id The ID from a prior organization of the data. Long deprecated.
Miscellaneous unused and/or mysterious fields:
Themes themes Does not appear to be used (always NULL). Was intended as an early incarnation of keywords.
SelfCount self_count Obsolete. Stems from previous FileMaker incarnation of the database and used as a way to track duplicated during imports.

Issues

The issues table contains large swaths of unused columns, due to it initally being a cloning of the sequence 0 story records when moving from flat file to a semi-relational database (FileMaker 4). Some fields stayed aboard instead of being kicked out due to a number of flat-file based files pending inclusion.

issues [Issue class in new site]
DB Column Name in New Code Description Usage Notes
Core issue data fields:
ID id DB-generated primary key. In the lasso-based site, this is the number you see in URLs like http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=293 It is generated by the database and has no inherent meaning.
VolumeNum volume Volume number from the indicia. Not consistently used, and according to recent editor list comments, not planned for migration into the new schema. Where especially relevant, volume numbers are typically included in the Issue (number) field. NOTE: This should actually be used for proper indexing of some foreign titles which restart numbering every year.
Issue number Issue number or other identifier from the indicia. Use the value nn to indicate "no number" when there is no identifier. For issues where the volume number is important, the form v1#1 is used to specify both the volume and issue numbers. When the cover number or commonly assumed number is different from the indicia number, it goes in brackets after the indicia number: v3#2 [26]. The same format is used for disambiguation of identically numbered issues: 1 [1946] or nn [1947].
Pub_Date publication_date Publication date of the issue as given in the indicia, but fully spelled out. Publication Date
Price price A decimal price followed by the ISO code, i.e. 0.10 USD Cover Price
storycount story_count Number of stories linked to this issue. May not be 100% accurate for all issues, but is updated whenever the issue itself is updated.
Key_Date key_date Specially formatted date string that (in theory) determines the ordering of issues within a series. In practice, many issues are missing this field, meaning that if their issue numbers are not standard, there is no reliable programmatic way to sort the issues in the series. In practice, the cover sort codes are slightly more reliable (although not always), but they are not included in the public data dumps. Also see Keydate
Fields that would be core issue data but aren't actually used:
Pg_Cnt page_count Not Used Page count for the whole issue is taken from story sequence 0 (which otherwise represents the front cover).
Editing editor Not Used Editor(s) for the whole issue are taken from story sequence 0 (which otherwise represents the front cover).
Notes notes Not Used Notes for the whole issue are taken from story sequence 0 (which otherwise represents the front cover).
Fields related to indexing:
IndexStatus index_status Whether or not an issue is being indexed, and where it is in the process. 0=not (white); 1=reserved (red); 2=pending (orange); 3=approved (green). Colors noted are how the issues appear in various index status grids.
ReserveCheck reserve_check Not Used The intention of this field is unknown.
ReserveStatus reserve_status 1=indexed, pending or reserved; 0=not reserved The intended relationship between this and IndexStatus/index_status is not known. from Jon: "0 = not reserved, 1 = reserved, 2 = reserved for editing. The value 2 has been used to a small extent to reserve books for re-editing or adding data after it's been indexed and approved."
Fields related to cover images:
CoverCheck has_cover Not Used
CoverCount num_covers Not Used Intended for variants
Fields related to the series, including unused cache fields:
SeriesID series Foreign key into the series table.
Bk_Name series_name Not Used (deprecated)
Yr_Began year_began Not Used
Pub_Name publisher_name Not Used
Fields apparently related to flat file management / distribution:
InitDist initial_distribution Not Used
UpdateDist update_distribution Not Used
isUpdated is_updated Deprecated. Used for tracking updated indexes before processing each distribution.
Change tracking fields:
created created Row creation timestamp.
Modified modified Date of last row change.
ModTime modification_time Time of last row change (24 hour).
LstChang last_change Date of some sort, but apparently unused? Column has numerous values, but they do not line up with the values in the Modified column. NOTE: This field was butchered data-wise and then replaced by the modified/modtime combo.
Miscellaneous unused and/or mysterious fields:
rel_year rel_year Not Used Intended for released year, caching of keydate year.
SelfCount self_count Not Used Historically used for duplcation checking.
SeriesLink series_link Not Used Deprecated. Early non-id based series link used to build the initial foreign keys into series.
Unused fields that would apply only to the cover. Stemming from seq 0 clone.:
Feature cover_feature Not Used
Char_App cover_characters Not Used
Script cover_script Not Used
Pencils cover_pencils Not Used
Inks cover_inks Not Used
Colors cover_colors Not Used
Letters cover_letters Not Used
Synopsis cover_synopsis Not Used Yes, I realize cover_synopsis does not make a whole lot of sense. It's not used anyway.
Reprints cover_reprints Not Used Arguably this could go in the "whole issue" section and be used to indicates issues that reprint entire other issues instead of doing story-by-story reprint links.
Title cover_title Not Used Arguably this could go in the "whole issue" section.
Genre cover_genre Not Used Arguably this could go in the "whole issue" section.
Type cover_type Not Used Since the type of a cover is "cover", this also doesn't make much sense. But it doesn't make sense as applied to an entire issue either, as far as I can tell.
Seq_No cover_sequence_number Not Used Makes even less sense that the rest of these. Stemming from the cloning of the stories table...

Stories

The stories table has a number of unused columns that are duplicates of columns from the series and issues tables (they're known to be unused because in some cases the data does not match, and the versions shown on the Lasso site are the ones in the issue and series tables, not these). They were initially used for caching data to avoid expensive joins in the FileMaker days. Also, sequence 0 (which represents the front cover) is treated specially, with its page count, notes, reprints and editor fields being applied to the whole issue by the current UI implementation.


stories [Story class in new site]
DB Column Name in New Code Description Usage Notes
Core story data fields:
ID id DB-generated primary key. Since there is no story page, this field does not show up in any URLs in the Lasso implementation.
Seq_No sequence_number Order of the story within the issue. By convention, sequence 0 is the front cover, and some of its fields are considered to apply to the whole issue. Sequence Number
Feature feature The name of the feature, if any. Often but not always the name of the primary character. Some stories do not have a feature.
Pg_Cnt page_count Number of pages. Page Count
Notes notes
Reprints reprints Reprint information (both reprint from and reprinted in).
Type type Type of "story", or more accurately sequence. Actual comic story vs text story vs ad vs letters page, etc.
Fields for creator credits:
Script script
Pencils pencils
Inks inks
Colors colors
Letters letters
Editing editor Rarely used except for sequence 0, as the editor for the book is typically assumed to have edited the whole book. However, this field can be used if individual stories have separate editors.
JobNo job_number Job Number
Fields related to content:
Title title
Char_App characters
Synopsis synopsis
Genre genre
Field related to flat file management / distribution. See series/issues:
InitDist initial_distribution Not Used
Fields relating to or copied from the issues table:
IssueID issue Foreign key into the issues table.
Issue issue_number Not Used Earlier indexes may have data in this field, but it is ignored.
Pub_Date publication_date Not Used Earlier indexes may have data in this field, but it is ignored.
Key_Date key_date Not Used Earlier indexes may have data in this field, but it is ignored.
Price price Not Used
rel_year rel_year Not Used
Fields relating to or copied from the series table:
SeriesID series Foreign key into the series table, duplicated from the issues table presumably to allow for direct stories <-> series joins. Actually, it was used to help troubleshoot and QA the initial building of a relational database way back. Also use for statistics.
Yr_Began year_began Not Used Earlier indexes may have data in this field, but it is ignored.
Pub_Name publisher_name Not Used Earlier indexes may have data in this field, but it is ignored.
Change tracking fields:
created created Row creation timestamp.
Modified modified Date of last row change.
ModTime modification_time Time of last row change (24 hour).
LstChang last_change Date of some sort, but apparently unused? Column has numerous values, but they do not line up with the values in the Modified column. Data got butchered through various ins and outs of flat files and between systems changing the date format.